Lebanon Businessnews News

Dialing ten-digit mobile numbers
MOT proposal to be announced next week
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The Ministry of Telecommunications (MoT) will add (02) as a prefix to the eight digits that make up mobile phone numbers. This step is meant to expand the mobile telephony network to cater to increasing demand, according to the MoT.

The new coding system will be applied to all mobile phone lines, old and new, prepaid and postpaid, and to all current prefix codes: 03,70,71,76 and 78, so that mobile numbers will appear this way: 02-03-xxxxxx.

According to Youssef Howayek, advisor to the MoT, all technical aspects of this step are being reviewed to guarantee an optimum quality of service. “Minister Boutros Harb will officially announce the new strategy by next week,” said Howayek.

A senior source said that this step is problematic. “It is unnecessary to add two digits to extend the network. The ministry could activate unused digits such as ‘02’ instead of adding extra digits.” By so doing, it would add one million free lines for use.

The source said that the ministry could easily apply this new system to new phone lines, but activating it on old ones is difficult. “It requires big investments to upgrade the currently used central stations. It requires at least two years to be fully completed.” Special machines will have to be installed to transit incoming calls.

The impact on end users will not be positive, especially on those who paid for premium numbers. “Large awareness campaigns would be necessary to inform people of how to use the new system.”

Another failure that the ministry risks facing is reaching non-similar numbering plans. “If ten digits become adopted for mobile phones, landline telephony is still built over an eight-digit plan, which is unreasonable.”
Reported by Rana Freifer
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Date Posted: Nov 21, 2014